Burrow says ‘it’s go time’ as Bengals wrap up offseason workouts

CINCINNATI -- Joe Burrow walked into the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice ended Tuesday and immediately let his teammates around him know how fast he got his speed up to in post-training sprints.

The Bengals quarterback said the 20.8 miles per hour speed he clocked wasn’t quite his personal record but it’s the best he’s done since before his December 2020 knee surgery. It was another small milestone as he continues through his first “normal” offseason in the NFL.

“It just feels good to feel normal again,” Burrow said when asked about it in a press conference moments later.

As the Bengals are wrapping up their last week of Organized Team Activities, Burrow is glad to be a full and healthy participant for the first time in his professional career. He was drafted in 2020 amid the height of the pandemic and a virtual-only offseason where players worked out on their own and teams met together via Zoom to at least talk through the playbook together.

Last year, Burrow was working back from ACL reconstruction surgery, and although he did almost everything the other quarterbacks were expected to, he was still treated with extra caution and exploring his boundaries of what he could and couldn’t do on his left knee.

Burrow suffered numerous bumps and bruises in 2021, including re-aggravating a sprained right knee in Super Bowl LVI, but a little rest after the season was all he needed to be back to full health for the offseason workout program.

“I’ve just been able to focus on the entirety of myself, weight room and conditioning, on-field, throwing, mechanics, all of it,” Burrow said. “It’s not really focusing on the knee, it’s just getting back to where I was prior. And I’ve been able to focus on the entirety of myself as a player.”

The Bengals have two more days of OTAs before breaking for the summer, but as Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, the time to relax was in March and April.

Burrow sees now as the time to ramp things up in preparing for training camp and the upcoming season. He still has a couple of trips he plans to take, but he will bring his personal trainer with him so he can continue his workouts on the road.

“I can’t be missing any workouts this close to camp, so it’s time to lock in,” Burrow said. “We are locked in now. It’s go time. We are a month and a couple weeks out from camp so I’m locked in.”

“I think about football every day,” he added. “This month leading up to camp, it’s more intense out there at practice, it will get a little more intense in the meeting rooms and my workouts and all of the above. It’s go time.”

Burrow joked that maybe on his second contract he will bring his personal chef with him on trips, but when asked later how much he thinks about what life will be like then, he said “it’s hard to wrap your head around” that possibility.

The quarterback market exploded this offseason, as Aaron Rodgers signed a three-year, $150.8 million contract extension with Green Bay, and the Browns gave Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal.

“It’s crazy,” Burrow said. “The numbers that these guys are putting up, I think it’s well deserved. All those guys are playing at the top of their game, and they’re being paid accordingly. But I’m not worried about it. I like to make jokes about it but I haven’t thought about it much right now.”

Burrow’s focus this offseason – aside from improving himself and getting on the same page with the rest of the offense – has been building up relationships with new teammates and developing the locker room culture. As a leader for the offense, he plays a big role in raising the bar for the rest of the team.

Taylor said that’s all part of the next step for Burrow as he heads into his third season: To continue to be critical of himself and the things he can improve on and to continue to raise the level of play of his teammates.

“I think he just continues to raise the standard of what we expect,” Taylor said. “He is certainly a leader of the offense and this team and he holds himself to a very high standard and expects those around him to raise their standards as well.”

“I don’t think he has any hesitancy to do that,” Taylor added. “That’s what’s encouraging. You want a guy who’s really got the mental makeup of exactly what you want from your quarterback. We have extremely high expectations for Joe, but I don’t think anyone has higher expectations than he has for himself. And that’s a great starting point for a guy that’s leading your team like that.”

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